By Modern Luxury By Modern Luxury | February 9, 2022 | Lifestyle Travel Sponsored Content
Photo by JTB Communication Design, Inc.
Tokyo is where generations of tradition and futuristic vision come together in modern-day Japan to deliver an unparalleled mix of shopping, dining, nightlife, museums and more. While Tokyo may be known for its lively cosmopolitan vibes, the city also offers ample opportunities to recharge in uniquely beautiful nature settings, some of which even few Japanese locals know about. From sacred mountain getaways in the north to serene subtropical islands perched in the south, there is always more to be discovered for first time or returning visitors alike in Japan’s beloved capital.
Jigenji Temple: Spiritual Experience in Tokyo’s Hidden Mountain
Nestled in the most western reaches of Tokyo lies the Okutama region, an area of unspoiled rugged terrain perfect for escaping the bustling streets of central Tokyo. In the springtime, the region flourishes with wild Japanese cherry blossoms. It is less than a two hour drive from the city center providing an abundance of outdoor activities from hiking ventures and camping to natural hot springs and water sports on Tama’s lakes or namesake river. It is also known for its beautiful old-world hamlet, shrines and temples which have stood the test of time.
Photo by JTB Communication Design, Inc.
The Okutama region is where one can become fully immersed in zen meditation. With centuries-old roots tracing back to the origins of Zen Buddhism, visitors can experience the spiritual practice just as the Japanese locals do in addition to the health benefits meditation offers such as reducing anxiety and stress. Visitors to Tokyo can partake in traditional zen meditation at retreats or Buddhist temples such as Jigenji Temple in Okutama region, where a monk instructs the meditation practice in English during morning sessions.
Ogasawara Island: The Birthplace of Japanese Coffee
A string of remote volcanic islands are located south of Tokyo with pristine white-sand beaches, ultramarine waters and even a few coffee farms. Ogasawara islands is a subtropical archipelago consisting of about 30 islands with year-round sunshine and an ecosystem so rare that the region is dubbed the “Laboratory of Evolution.” The adventure begins with a 24-hour ferry to reach these UNESCO World Natural Heritage designated islands. Upon arrival, start at Chichijima: it is one of only two inhabited Ogasawara islands and comprises subtropical forests, rugged cliffs and sandy beaches.
The climate of Chichijima has made this island one of the few places in Japan where coffee beans can be grown. It is here where one of the Japanese coffee farms lies: the family-run Nose’s FarmGarden. This hillside coffee plantation was created in the 19th century and the 4th family’s generation returned to the islands to reopen the farm in 1973, rebirthing the precious Ogasawara coffee. Pesticide-free and crafted by hand, the Nose family’s coffee beans are exclusive, only available for purchase to tour visitors. Coffee lovers can enjoy a rare farm tour opportunity where visitors can pick, peep and hand-roast the farm’s beans – finished with a drink of a self-produced cup of coffee. This experience is enjoyable year-round: visit in the late fall to witness the busiest harvest time or tour during the full moon days of March and April to see the beautiful coffee flowers blossom.
To top off your island adventure, visit Kominato Beach for an idyllic white beach with crystal clear waters well-suited for snorkeling excursions. Chichijima pays special attention to ecotourism, making this island a prime spot for divers eager to glimpse at large migratory fish, bright coral reefs and – a legacy of the region’s World War II battles – underwater shipwrecks. Who knew marine leisure and beaches were here in Tokyo?
Photo by Ogasawara Village Tourism Bureau
Learn more about these experiences here. And for more information about Tokyo’s new normal, click here.